Archive | Environment

Tide Turning Against Plastic Microbeads in Toiletries

Tide Turning Against Plastic Microbeads in Toiletries

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

There are signs that the era where plastic microbeads from personal care products pollute bodies of water worldwide and aquatic food chains might be drawing to a close.

Microbeads are miniscule spheres of plastic commonly added as abrasives to personal care products like face scrubs, shower gels and toothpaste. They’re designed to wash down the drain, but because of their small size, they escape sewage treatment plants. Once discharged into oceans, rivers or lakes or onto land, they’re virtually impossible to

Posted in Environment, Headlines, Water0 Comments

Garden Grove Desal Forum Tackles Issues Suppressed by OCWD

Garden Grove Desal Forum Tackles Issues Suppressed by OCWD

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

A public forum held by Garden Grove mayor Bao Nguyen last night at the city’s community center examined the cost of and alternatives to a proposed $1 billion ocean desalination plant promoted by the Orange County Water District.

Those issues–and the panel of local experts who discussed them last night–have been all but ignored by most of the OCWD Board of Directors, some of whom have strong financial and political ties to Poseidon Resources Inc., the company that would build the plant, and its big-business

Posted in Energy, Environment, Headlines, MWD, OCWD, Poseidon, Water, Water Boarding1 Comment

Drought Politics: Pat Bates Baits Union-Tribune Readers with Doomsday Scenario

By Debbie Cook
Special to the Surf City Voice

On March 11, the San Diego Union-Tribune posted an op-ed, “Desalination makes sense for Orange County”, written by Assemblywoman Pat Bates (Laguna Niguel). It is unclear why she was addressing the California Coastal Commission since the project was not on its March agenda.

The paper chose not to allow comments on her article. So here is my response to her piece which reads as if lifted from a Poseidon Resources press release.

She

Posted in Headlines, OCWD, Poseidon, Water, Water Boarding4 Comments

Five Reasons to Pee in Your Garden

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

I confess, my husband and I both pee in our backyard garden, waiting until nightfall so as not to surprise neighbors.

We’ve always been comfortable relieving ourselves alongside lonely highways, even in daylight when waiting for the next bathroom seems unreasonable. But peeing in our own garden started as something of a lark, a combo of enjoying feeling a little naughty while also stealing a moment to take in the stillness of the night.

However, after a little research into

Posted in Environment, Headlines, Water2 Comments

Disappearing Ocean Plastics: Nothing to Celebrate

Disappearing Ocean Plastics: Nothing to Celebrate

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

You’d think that finding far less plastic pollution on the ocean’s surface than scientists expected would be something to cheer about. The reality, however, is that this is likely bad news, for both the ocean food web and humans eating at the top. Ingestion of tiny plastic debris by sea creatures likely explains the plastics’ disappearance and exposes a worrisome entry point for risky chemicals into the food web.

Except for a transient slowdown during the recent economic recession, global plastics

Posted in Environment, Headlines, Water1 Comment

Vanity Skin Scrubbers Harm Ocean Food Web

Vanity Skin Scrubbers Harm Ocean Food Web

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

It’s time to eliminate plastic micro-bead exfoliants.

The beauty industry hits hard on the importance of frequent exfoliation to keep skin looking younger and healthy. Spherical plastic micro-bead scrubbers, no larger than a half millimeter, have been introduced into hundreds of skin care products in recent decades, but scientists are discovering that the ocean food web, and maybe human health, could be imperiled as a result.

alternatives to plastic

Biodegradable alternatives to plastic micro-beads (Wikimedia Commons)

Biodegradable alternatives to plastic micro-beads (Wikimedia Commons)

In babies, skin cells are replaced every two weeks, but by age 50 the turnover rate has slowed to six weeks or longer, fostering wrinkles and other unwelcome signs of aging. Products containing plastic micro-beads profess to speed up cell rejuvenation, and their popularity signals that consumers have bought into the promise of exfoliating your way to a more youthful look. Whether or not such products deliver on this promise, scientists have discovered that these innocent-looking plastic micro-beads are insidious little transporters of chemical pollutants into lakes, streams and oceans and maybe onto our dinner plates.

Micro-beads are usually made of polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), and like other plastics, they’re thought to persist in the environment for a hundred years or more. They’re added to facial scrubs, body washes, soap bars, toothpastes and even sunscreens and designed to be washed down the drain.

However, micro-beads commonly escape waste treatment plants and pollute bodies of water, because the plants aren’t designed to eliminate them or because wastewater is diverted directly to local waterways in heavier rains.

“Microplastics” are defined as plastic debris smaller than five millimeters and include both manufactured micro-beads and the breakdown products of larger plastic waste which fragments into progressively smaller bits during exposure to sunlight and other environmental forces.

The Santa Monica-based non-profit 5 Gyres Institute is studying the impact of micro-beads and other microplastics on aquatic environments and found that a single tube of facial cleanser can contain over 300,000 micro-beads.

And, in a study published last year in Marine Pollution Bulletin, 5 Gyres reported that the surface waters of the Great Lakes averaged 43,000 microplastic particles per square kilometer: Many were tiny spheres matching those in personal care products.Micro-bead density was as high as 600,000 per square kilometer in one sample.

Lead author Marcus Erickson has also informally sampled the Los Angeles River and found an abundance of plastic micro-beads there too. These startling findings add to a growing body of evidence that microplastics are building up in all bays, gulfs and seas worldwide.

Micro-beads listed as "polyethylene" in body wash ingredients

Micro-beads can be listed as micro-beads, polyethylene or polypropylene on product labels

Plastic debris of any size represents a dual chemical threat to aquatic environments, both from noxious chemicals manufactured into them (like bisphenol-A and phthalates) and because plastics are lipophilic, meaning oily pollutants found in water environments are attracted and adhere to their surface. As early as 2001, for example, scientists discovered that virgin pellets of PP exposed to coastal Japanese seawaters adsorbed toxic chemicals, like polychlorinated biphenyls (PBCs) and a breakdown product of the banned pesticide DDT, up to a million times their concentration in the surrounding water. Other risky chemicals, including flame retardants, have since been added to the list of pollutants associated with marine plastics.

Consequently, plastic debris ingested by sea creatures has become a potential threat to the ocean food chain, and scientists have already documented the ingestion of plastics by many fish species as well as marine creatures as small as barnacles and as large as whales. Over half of sea turtles found dead have ingested plastic.

Studies are also emerging documenting the bioaccumulation of chemical pollutants in fish and other animal tissues when plastics are ingested. For microplastics, this threat is magnified by their small volume which means greater relative surface area to which pollutants can adhere.

Recent research suggests that micro-beads are among the very worst offenders expressly because they are made of PE or PP. A research team led by Chelsea Rochman at U.C. Davis deployed various types of mass-produced plastics into San Diego Bay for up to a year and found that, compared to other polymers, PE and PP soaked up higher concentrations of measured pollutants: PCBs and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

In a particularly disturbing follow-up study published in Scientific Reports last November, Rochman and colleagues observed liver toxicity in fish attributable to pollutants picked up from San Diego Bay when, for two months, the fish diet contained ground up PE previously deployed in the bay. Such findings notch up the concern that human health could also be impacted by plastics accumulating in the ocean food web.

According to Plastics Europe, an industry association, global plastics production reached 288 million metric tons in 2012 and is projected to continue its rise. Oceans cover 71 percent of the earth’s surface (roughly 140 million square miles) with an average depth of over 2.6 miles. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that there are already 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile of ocean, distributed on the surface and seafloor and throughout the water column. The plastic burden of the Pacific Ocean alone is thought to total 18 million tons.

Given the ocean’s vastness, there’s no practical or impractical means to remove the existing plastic pollution. The idea of somehow filtering out all the microplastic debris is doubly absurd.

The only rational solution is to stem the inflow of further plastic pollution. For micro-beads, the means of accomplishing this is straightforward. Industry must eliminate plastic micro-beads from all products and replace them with biodegradable alternatives, like apricot pits, cocoa beans, walnut shells, dried coconut or salt.

5 Gyres is spearheading a global Beat the Micro-Bead campaign to both urge consumers to read product labels and pressure retailers and manufacturers to eliminate plastic micro-beads. So far, the list of corporations that have promised to reformulate their products without plastic micro-beads includes Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, The Body Shop, L’Oreal, Colgate-Palmolive, Beiersdorf, and Proctor & Gamble. None has yet delivered.

A handful of states might not wait for industry to act. Bills banning micro-beads have been introduced in Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Ohio. In California, similar legislation prohibiting the sale of “microplastics” in personal care products by 2019 passed the State Assembly on May 23 (AB1699).

Plastic micro-beads are used for maybe a minute before they’re mindlessly washed down the drain, exemplifying a consumer society paying little attention to the makeup or fate of its waste. The fact that micro-beads might come back to haunt us via our dinner plates is food for thought.

Please Give Generously Now



Other Amount:



Your URL or E-mail :


[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Posted in Environment, Headlines1 Comment

Poseidon’s Water Boy: Mayor/Assembly-Candidate Matt Harper Quietly Pushes Desal Scam Past Ratepayers

Poseidon’s Water Boy: Mayor/Assembly-Candidate Matt Harper Quietly Pushes Desal Scam Past Ratepayers

Commentary by Debbie Cook
Special to the Surf City Voice

Ocean desalination in Huntington Beach makes sense…if you don’t really think about it. But thinking about it requires understanding all the consequences of Poseidon Resources’ proposed project.

Take for example the unnamed city staffer who probably thought he was brokering a good deal for residents when he negotiated 3000 acre feet/year of Poseidon’s water for 5 percent below the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California imported rate–a savings of $150,000. The problem is that if Orange County Water District (OCWD) approves

Posted in Environment, Headlines, Poseidon, Water2 Comments

Ocean-Plastic Cleanup Schemes Fail to Separate Fantasy From Reality

Ocean-Plastic Cleanup Schemes Fail to Separate Fantasy From Reality

By Sarah (Steve) Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

Imagine using a thimble to empty a bathtub, with the faucet still running. That’s how experts on ocean plastics pollution generally see schemes focused on extracting the debris from the open ocean instead of strategies to prevent plastic waste from getting there in the first place.

Interest in methods to rid the oceans of plastic debris is motivated by very real threats to the entire ocean food web. The “North Pacific Garbage Patch” is the most studied of the

Posted in Environment, Headlines, Water0 Comments

Mesa Water District: Vanity Leads to Questionable Media Consulting Fees at Ratepayers’ Expense

Mesa Water District: Vanity Leads to Questionable Media Consulting Fees at Ratepayers’ Expense

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

The Mesa Water District spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars preparing its general manager and communications manager for a thirty minute interview with this reporter and researching my background, according to invoices obtained by the Surf City Voice under the Public Records Act.

The invoices are only four from a total of 30 received by Mesa Water from the consulting firm of Laer Pearce Associates<

Posted in Headlines, Mesa, Water, Water Boarding1 Comment

Huntington Beach Mayor Proposes Coastal Commission Reject of Poseidon Desalination Permit

Huntington Beach Mayor Proposes Coastal Commission Reject of Poseidon Desalination Permit

Mayor Connie Boardman’s proposed letter to the California Coastal Commission, below, will be before the Huntington Beach City Council on Monday, May 6, 2013. Public comments will be heard at the start of the city council meeting. Her proposed letter is based on findings made previously by Coastal Commission (here). A debate on the pros proposed Poseidon desalination plant can be read (here) and (here).

May 6, 2013

Posted in Environment, Headlines, Poseidon3 Comments

Donations

Please Give Generously Now



Other Amount:



Your URL or E-mail :


Calendar: Click for that day’s posts

February 2016
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
29